Social Studies Instruction: Selecting Resources & Assessments

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will learn how to supplement the social studies textbook with other materials, such as technology resources, books, videos, and other sources that give students a well-rounded perspective.


You have a teacher's guide and textbook. What else do you need? It is very likely that your district will supply you with high quality textbooks that are closely aligned to the curriculum standards that can be used as a guide as you develop your social studies program. However, use caution when depending too heavily on one source for social studies materials.

First of all, there are political events that occur quite frequently that change the world map. For example, in March of 2015, the capital of Yemen was moved from Sana'a to Aden. Borders change and land changes hands frequently enough that social studies teachers will need to stay current to be able to provide students with accurate information.

Secondly, social studies is an area where perspective means everything. For example, some texts praise Christopher Columbus for his explorations of the New World, while others describe the atrocities he committed against Native American people. To provide students with a global perspective of major events, they will need access to multiple sources.

Technology Resources

Where can I get supplemental resources? Most school districts have technology available for students and teachers in the form of computers, tablets, or other resources that are connected to the Internet. The Internet is a valuable tool for social studies teachers as there is a great deal of information online. There are also engaging interactive activities for nearly every imaginable objective. When using online resources with students, be sure to explore any site that students will be using in advance. Students need to be closely monitored to make sure they stay on acceptable web pages.

Finding legitimate sites on the internet can be a challenge. Museums, educational institutes, libraries, online encyclopedias, and some news sources provide valid and relevant information. Tabloids, social media, and community boards are much less reliable. Students need to be taught to be critical consumers of available media.

Other Supplemental Resources

Most schools have a school library that contains a wealth of books, videos, and audiovisual equipment in nearly every content area. However, once again, teachers should be sure to check information to make sure it is up-to-date. Community members and guest speakers may be available to provide enrichment for students in their areas of expertise from a real world vantage point. For example, war veterans and local politicians may be able to provide a perspective of world events that is different from what can be learned in books.

Some districts are able to send students on field trips where students can view artifacts and models. Artifacts are things, such as artwork and historical documents that have been created by a person that tell the story of a past event. Models are representations or examples of something. For example, a Holocaust museum may have an exhibit where a model of Auschwitz is on display. An artifact is a genuine object or document, while a model is a replica.

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